The Pre-born

The Round Table Discussion: The Whys Behind Advocacy (Family)

Hideous Planned Parenthood news hit the media spotlight and inspired me to write this Round Table series. So far we’ve looked at two opposing views, Pro-life and Pro-choice, and the foundation of worldview which establishes the scope and drives the passion behind them. (See Life and the Verbal Volley.) Some of the points translate to any topic simply because our worldview affects everything we process to understand.

The conversation now focuses on advocacy voices seated at the table. If you’re following, you know there are two groups in abortion advocacy: those who have been directly affected by the decision to abort a pre-born life, and those who have not. The haves deserve special attention. I’m focusing on the have nots for now.

Four Whys That Motivate
Not an exhaustive list, my conversations with others indicated a few general, deeply-held beliefs and core values galvanize an advocate’s position.

Faith

Family

Freedom

Financial

The whys are rooted in answers to key questions advocates answer for themselves. (See the post on faith to read how this conversation started.) Depending on how our worldview was formed and informed, the four whys above play out differently.

Now, about the passionate voice at the table advocating with a family focus.

Family
Some of us grew up in grace-filled, Christian families, and some did not. These people were the first and greatest influences in our lives. We inherit more than genetic material from our parents. Spending a lot of time with them, or anyone else for that matter, formed our worldview perspectives early. Our understanding of life and lifestyle, acceptance and rejection, selfishness and selflessness, abortion and adoption—our ideas on all these things and more formed, even if we didn’t know what they were at the time.

The decision to terminate a pregnancy can be made for lots of reasons. Within family relationships, shame can be a powerful force. Confessing how an unexpected child came to be can be difficult, uncomfortable, or disruptive to the family. Sex outside of marriage, while our culture becomes more liberal by the day, still carries with it complicated shame issues for many. Infidelity that results in a pregnancy can be explosive and destructive to the family. What may be worst is the psychological and emotional damage done in the case of sexual abuse (rape or incest). We could walk this road a little farther, but the personal reasons typically stack up and amount to shame, tough real-life consequences, or devastating abuse. Often the choice to abort is damage control, and under those circumstances, it’s very sad. The have nots seem to characterize the family ideas in the following ways, and my tears begin to flow when I hear—

It’s another mouth to feed, and they don’t have enough to make ends meet as it is.
If these girls and women are going to run around….
She already gave up how many children for adoption?
She had no intent to be a parent. No one should be forced to do that!
She should never be forced have a child “out there” who will find her someday!
Rape and incest cases should always be terminated. Can you imagine bearing that man’s child?
This is such an ugly world. Who wants to bring a child into it?
The (fill in any collective adjective) population is out of control!

It’s an attempt to solve a significant, complex situational dilemma in the “best” way possible. People line up to support abortion as a means to control so many things. Can you see how lifestyle might outweigh the tiny, unseen life in the majority of the above? Am I the only one who thinks aborting the pregnancy does nothing to address the underlying needs? Does it even begin to genuinely or effectively address the social, emotional, physical, or sexual realms? (I’m aware PP is a provider of products suggesting education, prevention, etc., so that little point can remain. I’d like to know what the actual abortion procedure addresses effectively.)

I assume you have friends like mine. A couple hoped to build a family, but there were difficulties. Out of a painful struggle, their beautiful hearts became open to adoption. They had no idea that was God’s plan for their family at the start, but they became soft and open to it. Sometimes there were no fertility problems at all. A family chose to increase their size through adoption. Either way, children who had no value to anyone else in their part of the world were given infinite value! Bless them! Homes were opened to “the least of these,” and lives were completely transformed. These advocates saw the intrinsic value in the the pre-born partly because families and adoption were core values.

Adoption is a beautiful motivator. Christians often see the correlation between God’s adoption shown in Scripture and the adoption process for available children. Not everyone can adopt; I’m so thankful for those who do! Check out what God says—

Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.” Romans 9:25

The prophecy is in the context of Israel’s election, but do you see the beauty of God choosing to love and adopt the Gentiles into his people? It’s a beautiful thing! When families welcome orphans or surrendered children, it reflects the very thing God does on behalf of anyone who was previously out of relationship with Him. He places children in families. He places us in his family, in his precious and loved people. What do you think about that?

If we are honest, plenty of families adopt for various reasons, and they aren’t all about God. That’s understandable and commendable. I love adoptive families who provide loving homes for children who would otherwise have a very different life, maybe with terrible hardships. Adoptive families, I just want to say thank you! You stand in the gap for these children in place of me and others who cannot.

My little sidebar conversation to the Jesus-lovers might go a little like this:

Many of you are doing whatever you can to support adoption in your city, state, country, or the world. Thank you! You are able to be in the trenches by increasing your family through adoption, buy someone’s cheesecakes at a bake sale for their family adoption, or serve with and support an orphan ministry—you are beautiful hearts! Thank you! If you are beginning to wonder how you can support orphaned or adoptable children, there is no shortage of avenues. (Let’s create a resource list below!)

If we are searching for a cultural solution to abortion, we will never find a single, magic solution. Let’s consider that placing children in families is a wonderful option, and one of many possible supportive approaches. How can we make that a reality?

~Jennifer

Questions to Think About?

Do you already support families or single women and girls trying to navigate the crisis of an unexpected pregnancy? How do you do that?

If you were open to using your voice (or other resources and means) to support a family-focus, what might you be able to do? Where would you look to connect? How might you connect to trusted, quality organizations?

Can you think of other means to support a family focus under these circumstances if a woman were hesitant to investigate or commit to adoption?

What programs do you think needs to be in place to support both individuals who are parents to the little one? Who should initiate and organize those? Have you ever felt called to serve in some capacity?

How would you enter into a conversation with someone who has not been impacted directly by abortion who has a differing view from yours? Can you bring truth, love, gentleness and respect to the dialogue?


Note: It’s been brought to my attention I have been “loose” on my definitions of both Pro-life and Pro-choice. I would love to discuss that on the Verbal Volley thread or at the Fragrant Grace Facebook page. Friends also noticed I didn’t clearly mention medically necessary procedures. I hope to get there. That feels like a more sensitive area to discuss. I want to have a special conversation about that soon.

Credits:
Images sourced at http://www.morguefile.com.
Scripture sourced from http://www.biblestudytools.com

The Round Table Discussion: The Whys Behind Advocacy (Faith)

I’m continuing in the Round Table series today. We’ve looked at the two opposing views, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, and the foundation of worldview which establishes the scope and drives the passion behind them. (See Life and the Verbal Volley if you missed it.) I’m writing about all of this in light of the hideous Planned Parenthood “business practices” that hit the media spotlight, but this actually translates to nearly any topic simply because our worldview affects everything we process to understand.

Today I’d like to discuss some of the advocate voices seated at the Round Table. If you’re following along, you know there are two groups in the realm of abortion advocacy: those who have been directly affected by the decision to abort a pre-born life, and those who have not. The haves deserve special attention, so I’m going to focus on the have nots for now. The passion is equally extreme, regardless. Did you ever wonder why? (I did, so I started asking questions and having conversations.)

Four Whys That Motivate
Not an exhaustive list by any means, my conversations proved a few general, deeply-held beliefs and core values galvanized an advocate’s position. What do you think of these four?

Faith

Family

Freedom

Financial

The whys are rooted in answers to key questions advocates answer for themselves: What is good? What is right? How does this impact the ability to make decisions freely? What’s in it for me…or others? Each of us answers all these questions for ourselves and others, really. (Selfish or selfless motives are always up for debate.) Depending on how our worldview was formed and informed, the four whys above play out differently. I plan to tackle one of these at a time.

Faith
Each of us has a faith of some kind. We place trust in something or various things. The seen and unseen, the known and unknown, are constructed and ordered in our worldview based on where we place trust. How we make sense of the things we cannot see or don’t know is rooted in faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Each of us attempts to make sense of the invisible or the unknown; we are generally wired that way internally. Faith includes God, the universe, and everything; and how our faith is informed matters. Believe it or not, it’s possible to find people advocating both positions (Pro-life and Pro-choice) out of their faith. (Believing in the one God, many gods, or no God at all is huge.)

The 1973 Supreme Court decision Doe v. Bolton states that “the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.” 1 Whether it is stress, pressure from family, or a simple case of morning sickness, all of these are considered legitimate grounds for an abortion under current U.S. law. Essentially, a woman can have an abortion at any time, for any stated reason, and somehow it can be related to “health.” Studentsforlife.org

The Pro-choice advocate, admittedly, holds a difficult position. Close analysis of the argument leans toward an exchange: a tiny unseen life is sacrificed for short-term emotional comfort or convenience. How do we not land in the realm of life vs. lifestyle under these circumstances? I don’t think we can ignore this reality anymore. While the argument for abortion under the circumstances regarding “health of the mother” and “rape or incest” has been part of the laws for quite some time, that is such a small percentage of scenarios, we can’t ignore the overwhelming majority of “lifestyle” choices being made. I won’t minimize the need for procedures related to life endangerment and honest healthcare situations; they exist. But let’s confuse the two starkly contrasting cases. The have nots go on the offensive on behalf of the haves in hopes of defending abortion under these types of situations. Can we rightly discern what’s happening here? It’s definitely something to think about.

Christians, I’m talking to you now. How is it possible to assume a Pro-choice or neutral position on abortion as it relates to the predominantly lifestyle-based choice? Our worldview is to be informed by the Scriptures, period. I have no evidence supporting a choice to kill children, or worse, a “non-position” when it comes to this. God permitted the choice between life and death, but he gave his people very specific commands (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19). How we work out our faith and salvation isn’t a small thing here. Perhaps your worldview is informed otherwise? Does something else trump your faith in this area? Is there a need to examine and reform your worldview? A little introspection may not be a bad thing here.

How we communicate with others—that’s also a big deal! Can we do it with truth and in love, with gentleness and respect? If we hope to sit at the Round Table for more than a nanosecond before everyone walks away hurt or angry, we’ve got to consider the conversation very carefully. Jesus would have this conversation, and it would be unique to the audience in the moment, but his character is described in “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3). Jesus was gentle. There are precious conversations that are had quietly and gently. This is one, depending on who your audience is. Planned Parenthood “business practice” folks and politically motivated advocates will never be the same as a have (I’ll get to that later). Think about this.

I hope to take this part of the discussion in smaller bites. The reason for that is simple: there is nothing more precious to me than the discussion we could have surrounding this topic. Are you willing to jump in and wrestle with it together? Let’s try interacting in comments here or at the Fragrant Grace Facebook page. What do you think about the topic of abortion and Faith? (I’ll get into the other three Whys as we go.)

What do you think?

Thanks for reading along. You bless me when you do.

~Jennifer

Questions to Think About

Have you noticed deeply held beliefs coloring this area of debate?

What do you think about the Four Whys listed above? Do any of those motivate you or other people you know? Are there whys you think are missing?

How do you see Faith motivating people? How does it influence the culture? A friend? How does it influence you?

Are there any key points you would add to the Faith discussion?


Scripture sourced from biblestudytools.com.
Other sources:
http://studentsforlife.org
Cross and Mother images sourced from morguefile.com.
Punishment meme graphic sourced from Abortionquotes.com.

 

The Round Table Discussion: Life and the Verbal Volley

If you read my first post in this Round Table series, you know I’m responding to a cultural stick of dynamite reverberating through every form of media. Nefarious practices within the Planned Parenthood organization landed in a hot spotlight, and everybody’s talking about it. Rightfully so, don’t you think? I believe we—the citizens of this nation who financially support the industry through tax dollars and the larger global community receiving “care” through the organization—should be aware of the real mission, procedures, and practices. (For that reason alone, I am thankful the ugliness has come to light.)

The flurry of media activity surrounding the release of each undercover video has created a big, loud conversation near-impossible to ignore. I mentioned there are many voices seated at the Round Table. Today I’m looking at two general, competing views identified as Pro-life and Pro-choice.

Clash in the Culture
The passion in this emotionally-charged conversation runs deep. Imagine something like a fast, powerful river cutting to bedrock. Each point of view generally flows in a single, unstoppable direction. (I wouldn’t expect anything different, would you?) It would be one thing if each perspective existed in its own space. “Birds of a feather flock together,” so they often do. But when the owners of these two views sit at the table, they can take aim at each other with passion, intentionality, and sometimes hostility.

So, what is the core issue at stake between these two intense groups? The foundational concern is life. For both. Don’t be surprised. No matter what anyone says, both groups are dedicated to core values and beliefs that are all about life. (Now, before anyone backs out of this blog permanently, hang on just a second!) It’s what each group believes about life that matters critically!

Most of the Pro-life group recognizes the pre-born life as intrinsically valuable. While they hold the life of the mother equally precious, this group refuses to dismiss the tiny, unseen life in the womb for light or selfish motives. I won’t discuss the deeply-held beliefs which typically undergird the worldview right now. Can we agree this group’s passion is fueled by non-negotiable values and beliefs?

The Pro-choice group now recognizes the pre-born life. Older arguments were once constructed with inaccurate terms designed to paint the child in utero with “inhuman” language, but that is less and less the case. A few voices perpetuate earlier talking points, but today’s culture has no problem accepting more biologically accurate verbiage. Comparing the value of the two lives, the mother’s quality of life is typically of greater importance. The life decision is hers alone, whatever the logic or reasoning behind it. (This touches on a whole other topic: freedom. I’ll address that down the road.) The “choice” part of this whole thing is obviously in favor of one party (the mother) to the exclusion of the other (the child).

What Makes a Worldview?
The clash is really about something deeper than perspective; it’s about worldview. Our worldview is the lens through which we see and process everything, and it differs depending upon the foundational core beliefs and values. Let’s explore some life worldview-shaping ideas together.

Suppose you believed the following to be true:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 HCSB

So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female. Genesis 1:27

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31a

How would your perspective on life be impacted based on these three verses alone? If Scripture genuinely informs and transforms those who hold to it, then an all-powerful Being (God) existed before anything else and created everything that was made (also see John 1:1-3). In all of creation there is one final pièce de résistance: man. Verse 1:31a emphasizes the significance, completeness, and goodness when man is added to the existing creation. For the first time, all of creation is “very good.” ¹

Add unwavering belief and conviction to the above, and passion is a given. It should be. The miracle of the universe, existence, and life (Shucks, just taking a single breath!) becomes an amazing gift and the most humbling experience.

But, suppose your worldview is informed otherwise…

If the lens through which you read and process everything omits or is opposed to an intelligent Designer, certain pieces of information are filled in some other way. Typically, time and chance are expected to fill the gaps. Can we agree that, under those conditions, something like the following script wouldn’t be surprising?

“Lucy” is one of the most complete skeletons found to date from the early hominids that flourished between 4 and 2 million years ago. The skeleton consists of bones from a single individual, presumably female, who stood well under 4 feet tall.

Discovered by scientists in 1974, the 3.18-million-year-old Lucy was named after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which the researchers listened to as they celebrated their remarkable find. (www.amnh.org. August 2015.) ²

If you believed random chance and an extraordinary length of time created all we see, then perhaps life is still remarkable. (Actually, life evolving from nothing would be incredible, but I digress.) Add single-minded belief and whole-hearted conviction to the worldview informed in this manner. What happens when this perspective bumps up against the first one I mentioned? They are diametrically opposed, aren’t they? Passion might begin to describe it.

Wait! Isn’t this Oversimplified?
Yes, it’s more complex than that. So no one feels left out, I’ll give the obligatory nod to the crowd. Theism, Polytheism, Atheism, and Agnosticism are some general worldview categories. The truth is, there is either one God, many gods, or none at all, so the first three perspectives cannot all be true at the same time. The Agnostic is openly and honestly uncertain and needs to inform his worldview. More problematic is the “theological chemist” mixing elements from more than one category. This worldview is also uninformed, since any two categories are ultimately incompatible. (I would love a discussion about the problematic “flexible” positions one day.) I’m sure I just disappointed someone with another too-simplistic overview, but what can I do? My point is to highlight the fact that beliefs and values will conflict. (Don’t believe someone will take their core beliefs to the grave? Think about Christian martyrs and Isis members.) How we handle core beliefs and passionate expression of them is another matter entirely.

The Verbal Volley
So, what happens when deeply held beliefs come in conflict? The best case scenario is discussion leading to considerate, robust debate. That means both sides listen to the other’s perspective and feel free to maintain their values and beliefs without fear of retaliation. A worse scenario is an agenda-driven debate that becomes ugly and self-defeating. There’s a difference between engaging in conversation with spirited debate and lobbing verbal hand grenades.

I know this simplified piece of writing will never plumb the depths of the worldview clash, but I felt the need to begin to take a look at it. If nothing else, this very basic discussion could create healthy, spirited dialogue or some introspection.

Worldviews Compete. Now what?
What’s the point of knowing there’s a worldview war going on? Call me Captain Obvious, but this is nothing new. While we don’t always call it what it is, we see the fractures in culture from it. Pick a hot topic in the media—abortion, faith, freedoms, racial tensions, Second Amendment rights, treaties and sanctions, wars in any part of the world, political-anything—it won’t matter. Each of these topics is filtered through a worldview. People are fighting for something, and it’s something they believe is worth fighting for! They are fighting for their life on some level.

So, what do we do when we take a seat at the Round Table?

  1. We have to be who we authentically are!
    This means a couple of different things. At the Round Table authenticity is critical. How can we have a real conversation with a chameleon or a shape-shifter? That said, the definition of “who you are” is sourced from somewhere. Identify that and know where it comes from. (Church, I’m talking to you and me: your character and identity are sourced from Scripture, the Spirit, and the One who died for you. Be THAT!)
  2. We have to seek to understand.
    This is tough for most of us. This somewhat narcissistic culture over-communicates as a rule. We seek to be heard before seeking to understand. Our core beliefs, values, and perspective trump the importance of others’ sometimes. We might interrupt others for that reason. Or, we’re perfectly happy with rapid-fire status updates, tweets, or whole screens of rhetoric rooted in our opinions. (I’m not perfect on this one. Words can hit the page or escape my lips in person before I listen.) Try pausing or making a temporary vow of silence to see if this is a problem. The Christian is called to die to self, and that generally means pride, feelings, and agenda are secondary or possibly sacrificed.
  3. We simply must learn to communicate with gentleness and respect!
    This is a tough one. When passion overrides common sense, it’s too easy to let emotion drive the agenda toward perceived victory. We forget our listener has perspective, experience, and equal value. (Ugh! I’ve seen this mess up close and personal.) Speak out of something deeper and more meaningful than Emily Post’s rules for polite company, but start there if necessary. (I suggest some reading below.)
  4. Know when to let it die.
    What is it? Our pride. Our sacred cows. Feeble core values and beliefs in light of stronger, biblical ones. The conversation altogether. Any or all of these things may need to die. We may need to walk away temporarily or for an extended period of time in order to think clearly, evaluate, reflect, or diffuse tension. Be willing to graciously slow down or step away from heated or confused debate.

When seats at the Round Table are filled, a humble, others-focused mindset is critically important. Spirited conversation is constructive if the parties at the table are gentle and respectful. The same gentleness and respect does not take in, embrace, or own others’ perspectives without thought. It’s perfectly acceptable for everyone to leave the table with their very same worldviews in place if they wish. No one leaves maimed or obliterated. Simple as that. Civil debate takes place. Thoughts, emotions, and core values and beliefs are exchanged over the table without destructive discourse. (Can worldviews crumble under the pressure of debate? Yes, but the conversation can be loving rather than doused in bloodlust.)

If you’ve read this far, I love that you’ve hung in with me this long. Thank you! You’ve blessed me with your time and thoughtfulness. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you witness this clash in our culture in your experience? What is your place in it within your circle of influence?

~Jennifer

Edited to Add:
It’s been brought to my attention that I have been too “loose” on my definitions of both Pro-life and Pro-choice). I would love to discuss that on this thread. What do you think?


Questions to Think About…

  1. Do you see how your worldview was formed and gradually informed?
  2. Regardless of your position in a discussion, is it generally easy or hard to communicate with others in a respectful way? What makes it easy? What makes it hard?
  3. Awareness is a tool. Who could help you take a look at your worldview (to sort it out) or your typical conversational style (passion levels, interrupting tendencies, blatant indifference to others, personal agenda-driven talking points, etc.)?
  4. If you inform your worldview through Scripture, how might your conversation be transformed by the following verses:  2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:2; 1 Timothy 6:11; Titus 3:2; James 3:13; 1 Peter 3:15-16?
  5. In light of Colossians 4:6, how should these robust debates look to an outsider?

 


¹ See for yourself—God speaks of the individual elements of the universe in Genesis 1, calling them “good,” and while the meaning is far beyond our casual understanding of the term, emphasis is clearly stated and understood.

² I choose not to address any issues with the “evidence” for Lucy here, since my time or space won’t do the topic justice. (There are problems with the evidence.) 

Scripture sourced from http://www.biblestudytools.com at http://www.crosswalk.com.

Images sourced from http://www.morguefile.com or where otherwise noted. I have edited images within the the specified guidelines.